In casual conversation among parents, the phrase "potty training" is often quickly followed by a grimace and a "please lord help me" look to the skies. It's become a universally reviled phase in our children's lives that typically inspires dread and heavy drinking. So many people think about it as one of the worst parts of parenting as opposed to what it actually is -- another developmental milestone. But I'm here to let you in on a little secret: potty training doesn't suck, you guys! It's actually kind of awesome!
Here are some tips:
1. Start young.
Like, between the ages of 20 and 30 months young. Many think that is too early, but truthfully, the most successful and quickest potty trainers are usually the ones who have begun before their 2nd birthday. Their brains are not experiencing any huge developmental milestones at this time - they can walk, feed themselves, and communicate with words and small phrases. They can focus on potty training really well at this time because not much else is going on up there!
2: Give lots of positive reinforcement.
As tempting as it may be to give your kid a treat when they go to the bathroom, bribing isn't really necessary. All they need is a lot of excitement and cheering on when they're successful. If you really feel your kid needs something to help them track their progress, hang a little chart on the bathroom wall and let him put a sticker up every time he goes to the bathroom without having an accident.
3. Let them watch you go.
How else are they gonna learn if they don't watch you it? Let's be real, you're most likely doing this already. You've probably yet to meet an 18 month old with a deep respect for bathroom privacy. Don't forget to use proper words for body parts and pick a word for the action and stick to it. Poop, pee, potty, whatever you choose, just make sure the same one is used across the board so there is no confusion.
4. Don't shame them when they have an accident.
Even if you're at your wits end. Kids will have accidents -- lots of them, and you really don't want to instill a sense of bathroom-related shame in them. It's frustrating because obviously cleaning up a mess is really annoying and can be embarrassing if you're out in public. But it's important that they don't develop negative feelings around going to the bathroom. Instead, once they are cleaned up, have a quick and lighthearted talk about where you both went wrong.
5. Be prepared to spend a lot of time in the bathroom.
Especially the first few weeks, because they are gonna need to sit on that toilet and hang out. Bring them books, read to them, sing songs, and let them do their business in their own time. Sometimes it takes a while for them to get comfortable enough to trust the situation enough to go! If you make sitting on the toilet a fun and safe place to be, they won't fight you on it.
6. Get ready for your kid to be Donald Duck-ing it 24/7 for at least a month.
Pick a weekend and stay home the entire time. Let your kid hang out naked for a few days, and put them on the toilet every 15 minutes. It sounds like a lot, but this will get them into the routine and also leave little room for accidents. After the first weekend, pick short outings so your kid can practice holding it while having their clothes on. You can go out for longer and longer period of times after the first couple weeks.
7. Believe your kid when they tell you they have to pee.
That means NOW. And if you are out and about, that means they're gonna pop a squat on the nearest tree. Who cares where you are, just do it. I mean, occasionally there may come a time when there are too many lurkers around and you have to haul ass around the corner, but for the most part, just go for it, lil guy!
8. Get rid of all diapers.
No night time diapers, no pull ups, no diapers for when you go to a special place. Diapers are gone. You want that sensation to completely leave their mind or else they will know that they can always go back to the comfort of their diapers if they try hard enough. You must commit even when you don't want to. So double line the crib with piddle pads and take them for a sleepy 11pm potty break every night.
Have some hard liquor stocked in your home and you'll be surprised by how quickly your kid will be potty trained. Yes, the first month or so may be semi-brutal, but by 3 months your child will have completely grasped the concept and be totally potty trained. That's right, you can have a fully potty-trained two year old. There will be the occasional accident, but for the most part your kid will be good to go. And after 6 months it will be a whole new world. Trust yourself and your kid that you are ready and can do this. Have confidence and your kid will too! You got this!